BACKGROUND: Advance care planning (ACP) supports individuals to define, discuss, and record goals and preferences for future medical treatment and care. Despite being internationally recommended, randomised clinical trials of ACP in patients with advanced cancer are scarce.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: To test the implementation of ACP in patients with advanced cancer, we conducted a cluster-randomised trial in 23 hospitals across Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia, and United Kingdom in 2015-2018. Patients with advanced lung (stage III/IV) or colorectal (stage IV) cancer, WHO performance status 0-3, and at least 3 months life expectancy were eligible. The ACTION Respecting Choices ACP intervention as offered to patients in the intervention arm included scripted ACP conversations between patients, family members, and certified facilitators; standardised leaflets; and standardised advance directives. Control patients received care as usual. Main outcome measures were quality of life (operationalised as European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer [EORTC] emotional functioning) and symptoms. Secondary outcomes were coping, patient satisfaction, shared decision-making, patient involvement in decision-making, inclusion of advance directives (ADs) in hospital files, and use of hospital care. In all, 1,117 patients were included (442 intervention; 675 control), and 809 (72%) completed the 12-week questionnaire. Patients' age ranged from 18 to 91 years, with a mean of 66; 39% were female. The mean number of ACP conversations per patient was 1.3. Fidelity was 86%. Sixteen percent of patients found ACP conversations distressing. Mean change in patients' quality of life did not differ between intervention and control groups (T-score -1.8 versus -0.8, p = 0.59), nor did changes in symptoms, coping, patient satisfaction, and shared decision-making. Specialist palliative care (37% versus 27%, p = 0.002) and AD inclusion in hospital files (10% versus 3%, p < 0.001) were more likely in the intervention group. A key limitation of the study is that recruitment rates were lower in intervention than in control hospitals.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that quality of life effects were not different between patients who had ACP conversations and those who received usual care. The increased use of specialist palliative care and AD inclusion in hospital files of intervention patients is meaningful and requires further study. Our findings suggest that alternative approaches to support patient-centred end-of-life care in this population are needed.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN registry ISRCTN63110516.
Palliative care research raises a host of ethical concerns. Obtaining informed consent from seriously ill patients and their families is often perceived as an additional burden. Alternative approaches to traditional written informed consent reflects the changing nature of modern trial design, embracing real-world effectiveness and pragmatic clinical trials with those who are seriously ill. Ethicists, clinical investigators, and regulatory bodies have acknowledged the challenges to rigorous, meaningful, and generalizable research across diverse patient populations in real-world settings. The purpose of this paper is to describe how these clinical trial designs have driven innovation in methods for achieving informed consent, with a focus on palliative care research. In this paper, we describe, and provide examples of consent waivers and three types of alternative approaches to consent, including broadcast notification, and integrated and targeted consent. We also present our experiences in an ongoing palliative care clinical trial, specifically using broadcast notification. Working with participants and regulatory oversight organizations, investigators can address the limits of traditional written informed consent and adopt innovative consent models to advance the science of palliative care. Research is now needed to determine the impact of these differing consent models on clinical trial recruitment, enrollment, and retention, as well as participants' informed understanding of their research participation using such models.
BACKGROUND: Clinical cancer research trials may offer little or no direct clinical benefit to participants where a cure is no longer possible. As such, the decision-making and consent process for patient participation is often challenging.
AIM: To gain understanding of how patients make decisions regarding clinical trial participation, from the perspective of both the patient and healthcare professionals involved.
METHODS: In-depth, face to face interviews using a grounded theory approach. This study was conducted in a regional Cancer Centre in the United Kingdom. Of the 36 interviews, 16 were conducted with patients with cancer that had non-curative intent and 18 with healthcare professionals involved in the consent process.
RESULTS: 'Nothing to lose' was identified as the core category that underpinned all other data within the study. This highlighted the desperation articulated by participants, who asserted trial participation was the 'only hope in the room'. The decision regarding participation was taken within a 'trusting relationship' that was important to both patients and professionals. Both were united in their 'fight against cancer'. These two categories are critical in understanding the decision-making/consent process and are supported by other themes presented in the theoretical model.
CONCLUSION: This study presents an important insight into the complex and ethically contentious situation of consent in clinical trials that have non-curative intent. It confirms that patients with limited options trust their doctor and frequently hold unrealistic hopes for personal benefit. It highlights a need for further research to develop a more robust and context appropriate consent process.
Background: Phase 1 clinical trials remain vital for oncology care. Patients on these trials require supportive care for quality-of-life (QOL) concerns.
Objective: To test a Palliative Care Intervention (PCI) for patients with solid tumors enrolled in Phase I therapeutic trials with a priori hypothesis that psychological distress, QOL, satisfaction, symptoms, and resource utilization would be improved in the PCI group.
Design: This unblinded randomized trial compared the PCI with usual care in patients accrued to Phase I Clinical Trials. Subjects (n = 479) were followed for 24 weeks, with 12 weeks as the primary outcome.
Setting: Two Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States.
Subjects: A consecutive sample, 21 years or older, English fluency, with solid tumors initiating a Phase 1 trial. Measurements: Psychological Distress (Distress Thermometer), QOL total and subscales (FACT-G), satisfaction (FAM-CARE), survival, and resource utilization (chart audit).
Results: PCI subjects showed improved Psychological Distress (-0.47, p = 0.015) and Emotional Well-Being (0.81, p = 0.045), with differences on variables of QOL and distress between sites. High rates of symptom-management admissions (41.3%) and low rates of Advance Directive completion (39.0%), and hospice enrollment (30.7%), despite a median survival in both groups of 10.1 months from initiating a Phase 1 study.
Conclusions: A nurse-delivered PCI can improve some QOL outcomes and distress for patients participating in Phase 1 trials. Greater integration of PC is needed to provide quality care to these patients and to support transitions from treatment to supportive care, especially at the end of life.
Importance: Palliative care has shown benefits in reducing symptom intensity and quality of life in patients with advanced cancer. However, high-quality evidence to support palliative care policy and service developments for patients with long-term neurological conditions (LTNCs) is lacking.
Objective: To determine the effectiveness of a short-term integrated palliative care (SIPC) intervention for people with LTNCs.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Multicenter, phase 3, randomized clinical trial conducted from April 1, 2015, to November 30, 2017, with a last follow-up date of May 31, 2018, in 7 UK hospitals with both neurology and palliative care services. A total of 535 patients with LTNC were assessed for eligibility and 350 were randomized. Inclusion criteria were patients 18 years or older with any advanced stage of multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease, idiopathic Parkinson disease multiple system atrophy, or progressive supranuclear palsy. Data were analyzed from November 2018 to March 2019.
Interventions: Patients were randomized 1:1 using minimization method to receive SIPC (intervention, n = 176) or standard care (control, n = 174).
Main Outcomes and Measures: Primary outcome was change in 8 key palliative care symptoms from baseline to 12-weeks, measured by the Integrated Palliative care Outcome Scale for neurological conditions. Secondary outcomes included change in the burden of other symptoms, health-related quality of life, caregiver burden, and costs. Data were collected and analyzed blindly by intention to treat.
Results: A total of 350 patients (mean [SD] age 67  years; years since diagnosis, 12 [range, 0-56]; 51% men; 49% requiring considerable assistance) with an advanced stage of LTNC were recruited, along with informal caregivers (n = 229). There were no between-group differences in primary outcome (effect size, -0.16; 95% CI, -0.37 to 0.05), any other patient-reported outcomes, adverse events, or survival. Although there was more symptom reduction in the SIPC group in relation to mean change in primary outcome, the difference between the groups was not statistically significant (-0.78; 95% CI, -1.29 to -0.26 vs -0.28; 95% CI, -0.82 to 0.26; P = .14). There was a decrease in mean health and social care costs from baseline to 12 weeks -$1367 (95% CI, -$2450 to -$282) in the SIPC group and -653 (95% CI, -$1839 to -$532) in the control group, but this difference was not statistically significant (P = .12). SIPC was perceived by patients and caregivers as building resilience, attending to function and deficits, and enabling caregivers.
Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, SIPC was not statistically significantly different from standard care for the patient-reported outcomes. However, SIPC was associated with lower cost, and in qualitative analysis was well-received by patients and caregivers, and there were no safety concerns. Further research is warranted.
Background: Patients living in rural areas experience a variety of unmet needs that result in healthcare disparities. The triple threat of rural geography, racial inequities, and older age hinders access to high-quality palliative care (PC) for a significant proportion of Americans. Rural patients with life-limiting illness are at risk of not receiving appropriate palliative care due to a limited specialty workforce, long distances to treatment centers, and limited PC clinical expertise. Although culture strongly influences people’s response to diagnosis, illness, and treatment preferences, culturally based care models are not currently available for most seriously ill rural patients and their family caregivers. The purpose of this randomized clinical trial (RCT) is to compare a culturally based tele-consult program (that was developed by and for the rural southern African American (AA) and White (W) population) to usual hospital care to determine the impact on symptom burden (primary outcome) and patient and care partner quality of life (QOL), care partner burden, and resource use post-discharge (secondary outcomes) in hospitalized AA and White older adults with a life-limiting illness.
Methods: Community Tele-pal is a three-site RCT that will test the efficacy of a community-developed, culturally based PC tele-consult program for hospitalized rural AA and W older adults with life-limiting illnesses (n = 352) and a care partner. Half of the participants (n = 176) and a care partner (n = 176) will be randomized to receive the culturally based palliative care consult. The other half of the patient participants (n = 176) and care partners (n = 176) will receive usual hospital care appropriate to their illness.
Discussion: This is the first community-developed, culturally based PC tele-consult program for rural southern AA and W populations. If effective, the tele-consult palliative program and methods will serve as a model for future culturally based PC programs that can reduce patients’ symptoms and care partner burden.
Importance: National guidelines recommend early palliative care for patients with advanced heart failure, which disproportionately affects rural and minority populations.
Objective: To determine the effect of an early palliative care telehealth intervention over 16 weeks on the quality of life, mood, global health, pain, and resource use of patients with advanced heart failure.
Design, Setting, and Participants: A single-blind, intervention vs usual care randomized clinical trial was conducted from October 1, 2015, to May 31, 2019, among 415 patients 50 years or older with New York Heart Association class III or IV heart failure or American College of Cardiology stage C or D heart failure at a large Southeastern US academic tertiary medical center and a Veterans Affairs medical center serving high proportions of rural dwellers and African American individuals.
Interventions: The ENABLE CHF-PC (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends Comprehensive Heartcare for Patients and Caregivers) intervention comprises an in-person palliative care consultation and 6 weekly nurse-coach telephonic sessions (20-40 minutes) and monthly follow-up for 48 weeks.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Primary outcomes were quality of life (as measured by the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire [KCCQ]: score range, 0-100; higher scores indicate better perceived health status and clinical summary scores =50 are considered “fairly good” quality of life; and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy–Palliative-14 [FACIT-Pal-14]: score range, 0-56; higher scores indicate better quality of life) and mood (as measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]) over 16 weeks. Secondary outcomes were global health (Patient Reported Outcome Measurement System Global Health), pain (Patient Reported Outcome Measurement System Pain Intensity and Interference), and resource use (hospital days and emergency department visits).
Results: Of 415 participants (221 men; baseline mean [SD] age, 63.8 [8.5] years) randomized to ENABLE CHF-PC (n = 208) or usual care (n = 207), 226 (54.5%) were African American, 108 (26.0%) lived in a rural area, and 190 (45.8%) had a high-school education or less, and a mean (SD) baseline KCCQ score of 52.6 (21.0). At week 16, the mean (SE) KCCQ score improved 3.9 (1.3) points in the intervention group vs 2.3 (1.2) in the usual care group (difference, 1.6; SE, 1.7; d = 0.07 [95% CI, -0.09 to 0.24]) and the mean (SE) FACIT-Pal-14 score improved 1.4 (0.6) points in the intervention group vs 0.2 (0.5) points in the usual care group (difference, 1.2; SE, 0.8; d = 0.12 [95% CI, -0.03 to 0.28]). There were no relevant between-group differences in mood (HADS-anxiety, d = -0.02 [95% CI, –0.20 to 0.16]; HADS-depression, d = –0.09 [95% CI, –0.24 to 0.06]).
Conclusions and Relevance: This randomized clinical trial with a majority African American sample and baseline good quality of life did not demonstrate improved quality of life or mood with a 16-week early palliative care telehealth intervention. However, pain intensity and interference (secondary outcomes) demonstrated a clinically important improvement.
BACKGROUND: Digital tools to document care preferences in serious illnesses are increasingly common, but their impact is unknown. We developed a web-based advance directive (AD) featuring (1) modular content eliciting detailed care preferences, (2) the ability to electronically transmit ADs to the electronic health record (EHR), and (3) use of nudges to promote document transmission and sharing.
OBJECTIVE: To compare a web-based, EHR-transmissible AD to a paper AD.
METHODS: Patients with gastrointestinal and lung malignancies were randomized to the web or paper AD. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients with newly documented advance care plans in the EHR at 8 weeks. Secondary outcomes assessed through an e-mail survey included the change in satisfaction with end-of-life plans, AD acceptability, and self-reported sharing with a surrogate.
RESULTS: Ninety-one participants were enrolled: 46 randomly allocated to the web AD and 45 to paper. Thirteen patients assigned to web AD (28%) had new documentation versus 7 (16%) assigned to paper (P = .14). Adjusted for demographic factors and primary diagnosis, the odds ratio of new documentation with web AD was 3.7 (95% CI: 0.8-17.0, P = .10). Satisfaction with advance care planning and AD acceptability were high in both groups and not significantly different. Among patients completing web ADs, 79% reported sharing plans with their caregivers, compared with 65% of those completing paper ADs (P = .40).
CONCLUSION: Web-based ADs hold promise for promoting documentation and sharing of preferences, but larger studies are needed to quantify effects on these intermediate end points and on patient-centered outcomes.
Objective: Patients with cancer face numerous problems at the end of their lives, which makes palliative care necessary for a peaceful death. Considering the important role nurses play in the provision of end-of-life care, the present study was conducted to study the effect of a traditional training method on nurses' perception of and clinical competency in providing end-of-life care to patients with cancer in a hospital in Southeastern Iran.
Methods: This was a pilot clinical trial in which the nurses in an oncology ward were allocated to two groups, experimental (n = 24) and control (n = 33), using a table of random numbers. The experiment group received three sessions of workshop training. The nurses' perception and clinical competency were measured before and 3 months postintervention.
Results: The results showed the perception scores in the experimental and control groups to be 171.75 ± 19.54 and 170.03 ± 17.03 before education and 176.16 ± 19.54 and 176.12 ± 16.12 postintervention, respectively. The scores of clinical competency were 98.71 ± 10.24 and 99.58 ± 12.17 before education and 101.5 ± 14.67 and 104.97 ± 12 postintervention in the experimental and control groups, respectively. According to the findings, neither of the groups showed a significant difference between pre- and post-intervention in terms of perception of or clinical competency in end-of-life care.
Conclusions: A traditional training method such as workshop training cannot cause long-term improvement in nurses' end-of-life care perception or clinical competency. It seems that nurses would benefit from acquiring cognitive and behavioral skills and knowledge through a more continuous form of instruction delivered through modern blended educational methods.
The purpose of this article is to describe the lessons learned in the course of a 5-year research study on a palliative care intervention for persons on a Phase 1 clinical trial. Patients who are participating in Phase 1 trials and the families who care for them may be especially vulnerable and require special attention. The patients are generally experiencing the effects of advanced disease, and they also may soon experience unknown side effects, intense treatment regimens, and the emotional stress of an uncertain future as a result of clinical trial participation. Oncology nurses in all roles including clinical trials/research nurses, clinicians, educators, and advanced practice registered nurses play a critical role in addressing the quality-of-life concerns in this population. Palliative care can provide better symptom control and information on treatment options and facilitate a better understanding of patient/family goals. Attending to these factors can ultimately mean improved survival for the advanced cancer patient, and support for these patients can assist in advancing the field of oncology as these investigational therapies hold the promise for enhancing survival.
Limited research is available on parental decision-making regarding their children's participation in pediatric phase I oncology trials compared with the adult population. The objectives of this review were to describe: (1) the process of parental decision-making in this situation; (2) the optimal communication features physicians need when proposing inclusion in such trials; and (3) the place of the child/adolescent in the assent process. Thirty relevant studies meeting inclusion criteria were identified by searching five computerized databases (PubMed, Web of Science, Cairn, Psychinfo, EM Premium). Parental decision-making is a complex process based on hopeful expectations, multiple family considerations and the child's previous cancer experience. It is highly impacted by the quality of physicians' communication. A therapeutic alliance along with an empathetic attitude and a timely delivery of accurate information is essential. Due weight should be given to the voice of children or adolescents and their optimal level of involvement may be discussed depending on their age and maturity. They should be given age-adapted information in order to empower them to be rightfully and meaningfully involved in early-phase research. This review highlights the main gaps and necessary remedial actions to support an optimal patient care management in this situation. Physicians' training in communication, structured interdisciplinary teamwork and early integration of palliative care are three key challenges which need to be implemented to actively engage in optimization strategies which would improve patient care and family support when offering enrollment in a phase I trial.
Background: Patients with advanced cancer for whom standard systemic treatment is no longer available may be offered participation in early phase clinical trials. In the decision making process, both medical-technical information and patient values and preferences are important. Since patients report decisional conflict after deciding on participation in these trials, improving the decision making process is essential. We aim to develop and evaluate an Online Value Clarification Tool (OnVaCT) to assist patients in clarifying their values around this end-of-life decision. This improved sharing of values is hypothesized to support medical oncologists in tailoring their information to individual patients’ needs and, consequently, to support patients in taking decisions in line with their values and reduce decisional conflict.
Methods: In the first part, patients’ values and preferences and medical oncologists’ views hereupon will be explored in interviews and focus groups to build a first prototype OnVaCT using digital communication (serious gaming). Next, we will test feasibility during think aloud sessions, to deliver a ready-to-implement OnVaCT. In the second part, the OnVaCT, with accompanied training module, will be evaluated in a pre-test (12–18 months before implementation) post-test (12–18 months after implementation) study in three major Dutch cancer centres. We will include 276 patients (> 18 years) with advanced cancer for whom standard systemic therapy is no longer available, and who are referred for participation in early phase clinical trials. The first consultation will be recorded to analyse patient-physician communication regarding the discussion of patients’ values and the decision making process. Three weeks afterwards, decisional conflict will be measured.
Discussion: This project aims to support the discussion of patient values when considering participation in early phase clinical trials. By including patients before their first appointment with the medical oncologist and recording that consultation, we are able to link decisional conflict to the decision making process, e.g. the communication during consultation. The study faces challenges such as timely including patients within the short period between referral and first consultation. Furthermore, with new treatments being developed rapidly, molecular stratification may affect the patient populations included in the pre-test and post-test periods.
Background: Delirium is a common debilitating complication of advanced cancer.
Objective: To determine if a multicomponent nonpharmacological delirium prevention intervention was feasible for adult patients with advanced cancer, before a phase III (efficacy) trial.
Design: Phase II (feasibility) cluster randomized controlled trial. All sites implemented delirium screening and diagnostic assessment. Strategies within sleep, vision and hearing, hydration, orientation, mobility, and family domains were delivered to enrolled patients at intervention site admission days 1–7. Control sites then implemented the intervention (“waitlist sites”).
Setting: Four Australian palliative care units.
Measurements: The primary outcome was adherence, with an a priori endpoint of at least 60% patients achieving full adherence. Secondary outcomes were interdisciplinary care delivery, delirium measures, and adverse events, analyzed descriptively and inferentially.
Rsults: Sixty-five enrolled patients (25 control, 20 intervention, and 20 waitlist) had 98% delirium screens and 75% diagnostic assessments completed. Nurses (67%), physicians (16%), allied health (8.4%), family (7%), patients (1%), and volunteers (0.5%) delivered the intervention. There was full adherence for 5% patients at intervention sites, partial for 25%. Both full and partial adherence were higher at waitlist sites: 25% and 45%, respectively. One-third of control site patients (32%) became delirious within seven days of admission compared to one-fifth (20%) at both intervention and waitlist sites (p = 0.5). Mean (standard deviation) Delirium Rating Scale-Revised-1998 scores were 16.8 + 12.0 control sites versus 18.4 + 8.2 (p = 0.6) intervention and 18.7 + 7.8 (p = 0.5) waitlist sites. The intervention caused no adverse events.
Conclusion: The intervention requires modification for optimal adherence in a phase III trial.
The global outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has seen a deluge of clinical studies, with hundreds registered on clinicaltrials.gov. But a palpable sense of urgency and a lingering concern that “in critical situations, large randomized controlled trials are not always feasible or ethical" perpetuate the perception that, when it comes to the rigors of science, crisis situations demand exceptions to high standards for quality. Early phase studies have been launched before completion of investigations that would normally be required to warrant further development of the intervention, and treatment trials have used research strategies that are easy to implement but unlikely to yield unbiased effect estimates. Numerous trials investigating similar hypotheses risk duplication of effort, and droves of research papers have been rushed to preprint servers, essentially outsourcing peer review to practicing physicians and journalists. Although crises present major logistical and practical challenges, the moral mission of research remains the same: to reduce uncertainty and enable caregivers, health systems, and policy-makers to better address individual and public health. Rather than generating permission to carry out low-quality investigations, the urgency and scarcity of pandemics heighten the responsibility of key actors in the research enterprise to coordinate their activities to uphold the standards necessary to advance this mission.
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INTRODUCTION: Equitable delivery of advance care planning and symptom management among patients is crucial to improving cancer care. Existing interventions to improve the uptake of these services have predominantly occurred in clinic settings and are limited in their effectiveness, particularly among low-income and minority populations.
METHODS: The "Lay health worker Educates Engages and Activates Patients to Share (LEAPS)" intervention was developed to improve advance care planning and symptom management among low-income and minority hourly-wage workers with cancer, in two community settings. The intervention provides a lay health worker to all patients newly diagnosed with cancer and aims to educate and activate patients to engage in advance care planning and symptom management with their oncology providers. In this randomized clinical trial, we will evaluate the effect on quality of life (primary outcome) using the validated Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy - General Survey, at enrollment, 4- and 12- months post-enrollment. We will examine between-group differences on our secondary outcomes of patient activation, patient satisfaction with healthcare decision-making, and symptom burden (at enrollment, 4- and 12-months post-enrollment), and total healthcare use and healthcare costs (at 12-months post-enrollment).
DISCUSSION: Multilevel approaches are urgently needed to improve cancer care delivery among low-income and minority patients diagnosed with cancer in community settings. The current study describes the LEAPS intervention, the study design, and baseline characteristics of the community centers participating in the study.
We do not know how much clinical physicians carrying out clinical trials in oncology and haematology struggle with ethical concerns. To our knowledge, no empirical research exists on these questions in a Nordic context. Therefore, this study aims to learn what kinds of ethical challenges physicians in Sweden, Denmark and Finland (n = 29) face when caring for patients in clinical trials; and what strategies, if any, they have developed to deal with them. The main findings were that clinical cancer trials pose ethical challenges related to autonomy issues, unreasonable hope for benefits and the therapeutic misconception. Nevertheless, some physicians expressed that struggling with such challenges was not of great concern. This conveys a culture of hope where health care professionals and patients uphold hope and mutually support belief in clinical trials. This culture being implicit, physicians need opportunities to deliberately reflect over the characteristics that should constitute this culture.
Importance: Parkinson disease and related disorders (PDRD) have consequences for quality of life (QoL) and are the 14th leading cause of death in the United States. Despite growing interest in palliative care (PC) for persons with PDRD, few studies are available supporting its effectiveness.
Objective: To determine if outpatient PC is associated with improvements in patient-centered outcomes compared with standard care among patients with PDRD and their caregivers.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This randomized clinical trial enrolled participants at 3 academic tertiary care centers between November 1, 2015, and September 30, 2017, and followed them up for 1 year. A total of 584 persons with PDRD were referred to the study. Of those, 351 persons were excluded by phone and 23 were excluded during in-person screenings. Patients were eligible to participate if they had PDRD and moderate to high PC needs. Patients were excluded if they had urgent PC needs, another diagnosis meriting PC, were already receiving PC, or were unable or unwilling to follow the study protocol. Enrolled participants were assigned to receive standard care plus outpatient integrated PC or standard care alone. Data were analyzed between November 1, 2018, and December 9, 2019.
Interventions: Outpatient integrated PC administered by a neurologist, social worker, chaplain, and nurse using PC checklists, with guidance and selective involvement from a palliative medicine specialist. Standard care was provided by a neurologist and a primary care practitioner.
Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcomes were the differences in patient quality of life (QoL; measured by the Quality of Life in Alzheimer Disease scale) and caregiver burden (measured by the Zarit Burden Interview) between the PC intervention and standard care groups at 6 months.
Results: A total of 210 patients with PDRD (135 men [64.3%]; mean [SD] age, 70.1 [8.2] years) and 175 caregivers (128 women [73.1%]; mean [SD] age, 66.1 [11.1] years) were enrolled in the study; 193 participants (91.9%) were white and non-Hispanic. Compared with participants receiving standard care alone at 6 months, participants receiving the PC intervention had better QoL (mean [SD], 0.66 [5.5] improvement vs 0.84 [4.2] worsening; treatment effect estimate, 1.87; 95% CI, 0.47-3.27; P = .009). No significant difference was observed in caregiver burden (mean [SD], 2.3 [5.0] improvement vs 1.2 [5.6] improvement in the standard care group; treatment effect estimate, -1.62; 95% CI, -3.32 to 0.09; P = .06). Other significant differences favoring the PC intervention included nonmotor symptom burden, motor symptom severity, completion of advance directives, caregiver anxiety, and caregiver burden at 12 months. No outcomes favored standard care alone. Secondary analyses suggested that benefits were greater for persons with higher PC needs.
onclusions and Relevance: Outpatient PC is associated with benefits among patients with PDRD compared with standard care alone. This study supports efforts to integrate PC into PDRD care. The lack of diversity and implementation of PC at experienced centers suggests a need for implementation research in other populations and care settings.
Trial Registration ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02533921
We consider uncertainty in relation to clinical trials for terminal non-small cell lung cancer, which is an aggressive and difficult to treat form of cancer. Using grounded theory to analyse 85 clinical interactions between doctors, patients and family members, we argue that uncertainty is a major source of tension for terminally ill patients, with individuals confronting a choice between transitioning to palliative care or volunteering for an experimental/trial medication that might postpone death. Regardless of their efficacy, patients must also consider how such experimental treatments might impact their quality-of-life. We argue that clinical trials produce uncertainty through (i) discussions about the efficacy of clinical trials; (ii) the physiological consequences of clinical trial medications; and (iii) the impact clinical trials have on patient's prognostic understanding of their terminal cancer. Accordingly, while study participants encounter high prognostic certainty (i.e. they have a fatal cancer), they nonetheless experience considerable uncertainty in relation to their participation in clinical trials.
OBJECTIVES: In non-gynecologic cancers, clinical trial participation has been associated with aggressive care at the end of life. The objective of this investigation was to examine how trial participation affects end of life outcomes in patients with ovarian cancer.
METHODS: In a retrospective review of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer at our institution between January 2010 and December 2015, we collected variables identified by the National Quality Forum as measures of aggressive end of life care including chemotherapy in the last 14 days of life, intensive care unit (ICU) admission in the last 30 days of life, or death in the acute care setting. Trials investigating medications but not surgical interventions were included. The primary outcome of this study was the association between trial participation and the National Quality Forum measures of aggressive end of life care in ovarian cancer decedents. Data were analyzed with univariable and multivariable parametric and non-parametric testing, and time to event outcomes were analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox's proportional hazard models.
RESULTS: Among 391 women treated for ovarian cancer, 62 patients (16%) participated in a clinical trial. Patients enrolled in clinical trials were more likely to have chemotherapy administered within 14 days of death; however, no association was found with other metrics of aggressive care at the end of life including the initiation of a new chemotherapy regimen in the last 30 days of life, ICU admissions, and death in an acute care setting. Among patients with recurrent ovarian cancer, median overall survival for trial participants was 57 months compared with only 31 months in non-trial participants (p<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: In patients with ovarian cancer, clinical trial enrollment is associated with chemotherapy administration within 14 days of death, but not other measures of aggressive care at the end of life. Given the importance of clinical trial participation in improving care for women with ovarian cancer, this study suggests that concerns regarding aggressive care prior to death should not limit clinical trial participation.
BACKGROUND: Although patients often prefer less rather than more treatment at the end of life, in the absence of contrary instructions, the medical profession's de facto position is to treat aggressively. It is unknown whether a computer-based decision aid can affect treatment choices.
METHODS: Secondary analysis of a single-center, single-blind randomized controlled trial of an advance care planning (ACP) intervention among 200 patients with stage IV cancer. Participants were randomized to intervention (Making Your Wishes Known, a values-neutral, educational, computer-based decision aid) or control (standard living will + brochure). After reading a hypothetical clinical vignette, participants were asked whether they would want 11 medical/surgical treatments in that situation (dialysis, cardiopulmonary resuscitation [CPR], ventilator, feeding tube, etc). The median number of treatments wanted by participants was compared between groups, and logistic regression was used to compare between-group likelihood of not wanting each specific treatment.
RESULTS: The median number of treatments wanted was 1 in the intervention group versus 5 in the control (P < .001). For 6 of 11 treatments, the intervention group was significantly less likely than control to want aggressive treatment. Most notably, compared to control, intervention participants were less likely to want CPR (odds ratio [OR] = 0.31), short-term mechanical ventilation (OR = 0.34), short-term dialysis (OR = 0.38), surgery (OR = 0.37), and transfusion (OR = 0.21).
CONCLUSIONS: Individuals using an educational ACP decision aid were less likely to want aggressive medical treatment than those completing standard living wills. These findings have implications not only for how to respect patient's wishes but also potentially for reducing costs at the end of life.